Hurry Down Sunshine: A Memoir

Michael Greenberg

Other Press,  September 2008

Hurry Down Sunshine tells the story of the extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Michael Greenberg's daughter was struck mad. It begins with Sally's sudden visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich Village, and continues, among other places, in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city's most sweltering months. "I feel like I'm traveling and traveling with nowhere to go back to," Sally says in a burst of lucidity while hurtling away toward some place her father could not dream of or imagine. Hurry Down Sunshine is the chronicle of that journey, and its effect on Sally and those closest to her -- her mother and stepmother, her brother and grandmother, and, not least of all, the author himself.

Among Greenberg's unforgettable gallery of characters are an unconventional psychiatrist, an Orthodox Jewish patient, a manic Classics professor, a movie producer, and a landlord with literary aspirations. Unsentimental, nuanced, and deeply humane. Hurry Down Sunshine holds the reader in a mesmerizing state of suspension between the mundane and the transcendent.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781590511916 | Publication Date: September 2008

“In its detail, depth, richness, and sheer intelligence, Hurry Down Sunshine will be recognized as a classic of its kind, along with the memoirs of Kay Redfield Jamison and John Custance….Lucid, realistic, compassionate, illuminating, Hurry Down Sunshine may provide a sort of guide for those who have to negotiate the dark regions of the soul—a guide, too, for their families and friends, for all those who want to understand what their loved ones are going through.  Perhaps, too, it will remind us of what a narrow ridge of normality we all inhabit, with the abysses of mania and depression yawning to either side.” 
—Oliver Sacks, The New York Review of Books

“There is a dancing, dazzling siren seductress at the heart of this book and…[it is]  madness itself….The startling associative imagery that gives Greenberg’s writing its power is like a domesticated version of the madness that nearly carried away his daughter’s life.”
—Lev Grossman, Time

“[A] remarkable memoir….Few things in life are sadder or more frightening than watching a loved one transported far away, swiftly and irrevocably, by illness. In the summer of 1996, Michael Greenberg’s vivacious 15-year-old daughter, Sally, was gripped by a psychotic episode from which she and her family are still recovering.….What sets Hurry Down Sunshine apart from the great horde of mediocre memoirs, with their sitcom emotions and too neatly resolved fights and reconciliations, is Greenberg’s frank pessimism, dark humor and fundamental incapacity to make sense of his daughter’s ordeal.”
—Rachel Donadio, The New York Times Book Review

“A triumphant story…. Greenberg renders the details of his daughter’s breakdown with lyrical precision.”
—Nell Casey, The Washington Post

“[Hurry Down Sunshine] is about tenacity and tenderness, feeling helpless but being present, about cracking up, then finding the wherewithal to glue the jagged pieces of your mind back together again.  But mostly it’s about love.”
—Oprah Winfrey, in her letter to readers in O, The Oprah Magazine
“This memoir of a family crisis captures the grief that transformed their lives….readers come away with a sense of the intractable nature of psychosis and the courage it requires for patients like Sally, whose struggles continue, merely to live.”

“[Hurry Down Sunshine’s] fundamental strength arises from Greenberg’s insistence on facing the demons that held his girl in their dark thrall. Sally’s descent and tentative return form the map for this story; Greenberg’s courage lies in his willingness to follow her down that terrible path, no matter where it leads.”

“[Hurry Down Sunshine] is an excellent memoir—written by the father of a 15-year old daughter about her descent into psychosis, diagnosis with bipolar disorder, and the impact on their extended, blended family….Greenberg’s description of life on a psychiatric ward is exceptional: marked by critical insight and occasionally dark humor.” 
NAMI Advocate

 “Greenberg’s elegiac, beautifully crafted memoir chronicles the summer his teenaged daughter, Sally, lost her mind to madness. …At times acutely painful, at times painfully funny, his story alternates between the progression of Sally’s bewildering, frightening decline and Greenberg’s own at times comically absurd experience as he simultaneously deals with a dependent brother suffering from his own demons; a difficult, obtuse wife; and a New Age ex-wife who, after each visit, offers cosmic explanations for her daughter’s condition before retreating to her home in the country. …The whole effect is one of a wrathful storm passing through Greenberg’s life, turning every relationship upside down as it shattered any semblance of inner peace in both father and daughter and destroyed their ability to communicate at the time. Sure to become a new classic in the literature of mental illness.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Greenberg, a native New Yorker and columnist for the Times Literary Supplement, writes with unflinching honesty and heart. He brilliantly renders daily life in a Manhattan psych ward….The result is a startling piece of writing, by turns sobering and surreal.”
Booklist, starred review

“An intense account of a young girl's manic depression, told by her father in crystalline prose with searing intensity. Passionate and unforgettable.”
—Shelf Awareness

“[Greenberg’s] erudite portrait of bipolar disease as experienced from both inside and out is dazzling…Bears enlightening and articulate witness to the sheer force of an oft-misunderstood disease.”
—Kirkus Reviews